Public Health at stake as Ohio House overrides governor’s veto, risks rolling back decades of local tobacco policies

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Dec. 14, 2023 - Peddling dangerous and deadly tobacco and nicotine products in Ohio could get a whole lot easier for tobacco companies. The Ohio House voted on Wednesday 60-31, with 7 not voting, to override the governor’s veto of a bill that would prevent local governments from protecting the health and well-being of their communities.

“This vote is devastating for public health in Ohio and sends a message to local lawmakers and community members that they know more about what’s best for our communities than the people actually living in them,” said Dustin Holfinger, the state government relations director for the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all. “The legislators who voted to override the veto said they did so to protect jobs and small businesses in their respective communities. When did vape shops and tobacco retailers become pillars of our communities and public health ignored?”

As a result of the vote, the law that bans smoking in public places, including at playgrounds and at sporting events, and tobacco retail licensure (TRL) ordinances that require the stores selling tobacco to be licensed are at risk of being dissolved.

“This is a shameful public health setback for our state,” said Holfinger. “Nearly 90% of adults who use tobacco first tried smoking before the age of 18. Teenagers are the primary targets of the tobacco industry. This vote allows Big Tobacco to more easily get its hooks into Ohio’s kids and addict a new generation to tobacco and nicotine products.”

Holfinger added that the vote puts tobacco company profits ahead of protecting public health, including the well-being of kids and Black people, populations that have been disproportionately targeted by the tobacco industry.

Because the Ohio Senate has already adjourned, it is unable to concur on the vote until January. This delay affords public health advocates, including the American Heart Association, the ability to continue efforts to maintain the governors’ veto, which would protect public smoking bans, TRL, flavors elimination and other common sense tobacco control measures that people in communities across Ohio have worked to pass to meet the needs of their residents.

“Our voices will not be silenced,” said Holfinger. “I urge all Ohioans to reach out to their lawmakers to ask them why they voted to protect tobacco companies and the products that are addicting our children at such young ages, rather than prioritizing public health.”




About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.orgFacebookX or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


For Media Inquiries:
Dustin Holfinger, State Government Relations Director: 614.578.3042;
For Public Inquiries: 1-800-AHA-USA1 (242-8721) and

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